Vino inertia

6 Jul
A moderate drinking session...

A moderate drinking session…

I’ve been thinking a lot about alcohol again recently – or more specifically, alcohol abuse. Probably because I’ve been reading a biography of Oliver Reed, an actor I greatly admire, but who’s penchant for the bottle tarnished and destroyed both career and life.

Each week is something of a personal struggle for me when it comes to drink. Because it reminds me of darker days, fruitless arguments and the less pleasant side of life. I’m still left with a lingering feeling that any time I have even a single drink, I am advocating the sort of drunken addiction I have previously criticised.

Drunks have always scared me a little. They’re terribly unpredictable I find, and more prone to argument and violence, and being the sort who abhors tense situations I try and avoid them – drunk strangers. Drunk friends can be different, especially if you’ve been imbibing with them. You’ve got the measure of each other and are often safe in your own protective bubble. I don’t mind a little over-indulgence with friends.

I’ve found myself avoiding parties over the years when I have to turn up late – there’s something quite unsettling about arriving to find everyone else intoxicated while sobriety clings to you like a wet t-shirt. I have recollections of one party a decade ago in which I did play catch up, with disastrous consequences. I’d rather avoid being at that disadvantage, it just makes me self-aware.

A couple of years ago I was at a party enjoying a couple of pints. To my embarrassment I blurted out some criticism of my colleagues who at that point were on something like their fourth bottle of wine for the evening. They weren’t aggressive, unpleasant or anything else, but it just came out, and I found myself apologising. It really wasn’t my business, and they were fine, but an association and memory had been triggered and this was my unanticipated way of dealing with it. The evening ran on for several hours and I had a little more, but being around excessive alcohol intake still throws me at times.

There are certain people I do try and avoid, and who I can’t work with because of their alcohol intake. I’ve seldom seen them sober, and its a shame, because they really shouldn’t need to be pissed in order to function.

But alcohol isn’t necessarily dangerous or harmful in moderation. And even the odd heavy session in reality probably isn’t any more harmful that walking around the streets of London on a daily basis breathing in the polluted city air. Though it depends on just how heavy that session is.

I’m a lapsed teetotaller. I wouldn’t want anyone to come off with the impression that I’m against alcohol consumption – I’m not trying to preach here. I do drink. Most of it socially. And because my social life has improved over the last year or so, the volume of alcohol consumed has gone up too. And while safely within medically recommended limits, I am regularly compelled to consider the levels and the potential problems should I start to partake too much. I’ve seen it destroy too many people.

I saw a couple of things this week that did baffle me. Channel 4’s Secret Life of Students took us inside the first term of a group of university students and their social activities. The sight of thousands of Leicester students hitting the bars en masse for a drinking binge fills me with dread. I somehow avoided that sort of excess when I was an undergrad. Then there’s the coverage of a certain Magaluf club which has been using scenes of a sexual nature in order to promote its activities. Promotional videos which include young women sucking on the penises of groups of men in order to win free drinks, or pictured having sex with strangers while other men look on as if they’re waiting for their turn to join in a gang bang made me baulk.

I appreciate people are entitled to do whatever they want, and presumably they’re well aware of the hedonistic, anything goes attitude of these places, but still. All I can think of is, “What about the STDs!?” I’m not a prude I don’t think, but this sort of orgiastic enterprise has no appeal. That alcohol is so prevalent – as a sort of industrial aphrodisiac – is quite scary. I’ve never understood the appeal of drinking until one throws up, and using that vomit as a measure of how great an evening was. And how people continue drinking once they’ve entered this phase is beyond me. Thankfully its years since I last drank until I puked – and I always felt that was a disappointing end to an evening.

Drinking doesn’t make you a drunk. Being drunk once in a while doesn’t make you an alcoholic. But alcohol certainly has the potential to affect those around you as much as it does your own life.




3 Responses to “Vino inertia”

  1. tenderlytina July 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    “I’m still left with a lingering feeling that any time I have even a single drink, I am advocating the sort of drunken addiction I have previously criticised.” ~ I would say no to that notion. When you take a bite of food you are not advocating obesity and all the related health problems that go with it, are you? I’m not a fan of overindulgence whether liquid, solid, or even sensuality but I’m not going to starve myself just because someone once burned a cookie either. I think moderation in all things, is the key to peace.

    • avalard July 8, 2014 at 1:25 am #

      Of course moderation really is the key (as I go on to comment in the article). But that doesn’t stop me being hyper-sensitive because of first-hand experiences. For a while I couldn’t even take a sip without playing out all sorts of unpleasantries in my head. I’m mostly past that now.
      Probably best not to get me started on food issues right now though… that’s a very personal battle which I’m not winning 🙂

      • tenderlytina July 8, 2014 at 1:27 am #

        As long as you’re fighting you’re winning. 🙂

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